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Loss and Damage - Adverse Impact of Climate Change
Fence around Rupa Lake, Nepal

Water covers two-thirds of the earth's surface, but only 0.0001% of the world's water is readily available for use by human beings.  The importance of the world's water resources has been growing along with a move toward sustainable development.  Above all, because of the broad range of resource values at stake, the governance challenges pertaining to lake basin management have come to draw growing and intertwining interests.  This month, we will hear from Dr. Masahisa Nakamura, an expert in water resource management, about lake basin governance and the importance of this issue.
Masahisa NAKAMURA
Professor, Research Center for Sustainability and Environment, Shiga University,
Chairman, Scientific Committee, Board of Directors of the Internaitonal Lake Environment Committee (ILEC)

After earning a degree in sanitary engineering from Hokkaido University, he received a doctorate (Ph.D.) in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Illinois.  He served as an expert in environmental systems engineering at the Western Pacific and East Asia regional center of the World Health Organization (WHO) before assuming his current position as director of the Lake Biwa Environmental Research Institute, Shiga Prefecture.

Related Link:
the International Lake Environment Committee (ILEC)
http://www.ilec.or.jp/en/

April 2012

"Water Governance"
Starting Up in Asia

Masahisa NAKAMURA
Professor, Research Center for Sustainability and Environment, Shiga University,
Chairman, Scientific Committee, Board of Directors of the Internaitonal Lake Environment Committee (ILEC)

What is the Integrated Lake Basin Management (ILBM)?

Lake environments and lake ecosystems, which are closely connected to the lives and survival of people living in basin regions, are suffering degradation on a global scale in both advanced and developing nations, and there is a need for worldwide endeavours to halt this trend and pursue sustainability.  It is believed that sustainable use and conservation will only become possible through the long-term, continuous reinforcement of the six pillars of governance by basin stakeholders, based on a certain level of political commitment.  These are:(1) organisations, systems and mechanisms; (2) policy frameworks and legislation; (3) promoting participation; (4) obtaining and sharing information on scientific knowledge; (5) pursuing the potential of technology-based measures; and (6) procurement of sustainable financial resources. Integrated lake basin management (ILBM) was formulated as a means of contributing to the resolution of these kinds of global issues.

ILBM Platform Process

ILBM platform: This platform provides a venue for stakeholders (interested parties) to clarify the current status of the six pillars of basin governance, identify desirable directions for strengthening these pillars, and cooperate in overcoming the issues.  The first step taken by platform members is the creation of a Lake Brief with "impact stories."  This document reflects the issues of basin governance that need to be resolved together by a wide range of basin stakeholders, including residents, NGOs, government agencies.

Problems of River and Lake Governance

--What are some problems and effective solutions in combined efforts by residents, interested parties, and governments for the overall management and administration (governance) of river and lake basins?

Lake Lanao, Mindanao, Philippines
Lake Lanao, Mindanao, Philippines
Nakamura:
Policies for lake basin management in many developing countries tend to give disproportionate weight to projects based on the construction of facilities, for which financial support is relatively easy to obtain, e.g. through bilateral cooperation or international financial organisations. However, this will not lead to sustainable use and conservation of basin resources unless there is also a strong system of basin governance which makes it possible for lake basin management to function on the long term.

Meanwhile, the communities affected by severe environmental pollution and uncontrolled health problems, including waterborne infectious diseases and chronic malnutrition, include countless villages that are dependent on small and medium-sized lakes, wetlands, and ponds which would not be eligible for such projects. The ILBM platform process is important in dealing with these kinds of situations.

Using the ILBM platform, stakeholders can build a thorough shared understanding of questions such as whether there are any examples of planned efforts by the government and public sector or activities by residents and NGOs that were clearly feasible and could have been effective, but were not implemented for some reason, as well as the reasons for such obstacles and the steps that are needed in order to eliminate the obstacles. Stakeholders can also use the platform to promote the development of activities by which they themselves can resolve the problems. In many cases, important results are achieved not by creating completely new endeavours, but by successfully reviving efforts that were already considered in the past but were not effectively implemented. By cooperating on a continuous basis, stakeholders can examine methods and activities that may be developed by taking a cue from success stories at other locations than the lake basin in question, as well as lessons that may be learned through trial and error based on measures implemented at other lake basins of the same river basin, lake basins of other river basins in the same country, and lake basins facing similar issues in other countries, thereby gradually strengthening the relevant pillars of governance.

Lake Governance in Japan

--Could you comment on specific measures for lake and river basin governance in Japan?

Nakamura:
The Lake Water Quality Conservation Plan pursuant to the Law Concerning Special Measures for Conservation of Lake Waters Quality is at the core of lake basin governance in Japan. It is characterised by measures that are integrated with various other laws and policies for the sustainable use and conservation of basin resources. This plan is specifically aimed at lake water quality, and does not focus explicitly on the improvement of basin governance; however, I believe that its general mechanism shows similar characteristics to ILBM. There is no single unified approach to lake basin management even among advanced countries, and most developing nations have not formulated even a basic approach.

Lake Governance in Asia

Washing laundry at Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal
Washing laundry at Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal

--Could you give some examples of specific endeavours for ILBM in Asia?

Nakamura:
There has been gradual growth in efforts toward the sustainable use and conservation of lake basin resources, centered around ILBM. Various efforts for ILBM are underway in the Philippines, Malaysia, Nepal, India, and other Asian nations, and workshops have been held for platform building, including the creation of Lake Briefs.

In the Philippines, Lake Lanao, a large, ancient lake on the island of Mindanao, has been affected by severe political, ethnic, and religious conflicts, but brighter prospects are gradually coming into view through ongoing dialogue based on the ILBM platform. In Malaysia, a national strategic plan for the sustainable use and conservation of lake basin resources has been adopted; Lake Briefs for sixteen lakes have already been completed, and efforts have begun to improve basin governance in a variety of ways. In Nepal as well, strategic plans have been developed for Phewa Lake, Rupa Lake, and other lakes in the Pokhara valley; initiatives at key lakes have begun, and there are efforts to preserve the biodiversity of lakes and basins through the ILBM platform.

In India, many businesses and politicians have begun to participate in the ILBM platform process for various lakes, and the approach of ecological engineering, which had not received much attention in the past, is being promoted through the participation of citizens. Cases of bottom-up expansion of participation have been reported in the cities of Pune and Udaipur, including a project called Jal Dindi ("water pilgrimage") that promotes cooperation between upstream and downstream communities, as well as cross-caste endeavours to improve the local environment.

However, there are many challenges to the broad functioning of the ILBM platform process. In many cases, improvement of overall basin governance through cooperation among all stakeholders may not necessarily compatible with resolution of individual stakeholder interests and concern. Another important issue is that of collaboration with river improvement plans as well as organisations and agencies whose mission is the development and management of water resources, since integrated lake basin management includes the integration of river and lake basin governance. Based on the concept of ILBM, discussion has already begun concerning a switch to the approach of Integrated Lentic-Lotic Basin Management (ILLBM), which combines the management of lentic (still water) lake basins with that of lotic (flowing water) river basins.

The ILBM related activities are currently being pursued also in Latin America and Africa, and it is hoped that such efforts may be further promoted in other parts of the world so that significant contributions could be made globally to the restoration of rapidly degrading lakes and other impounded water environments.


--Thank you very much.



About "Monthly Asian Focus: Observations on Sustainability"

Until 2010, IGES released "Top News on the Environment in Asia" on a yearly basis. For over 12 years since its establishment of IGES in 1998, "Top News" collected and organised information about environmental issues and policy trends in the region.

In January 2011, IGES launched the new web-based series "Monthly Asian Focus: Observations on Sustainability" in which leading environmental experts deliver their take on latest trends of sustainable Asia.

 

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